Thursday, September 18, 2014

Practicing on the Bailey Home Quilter and GMQ Pro frame

Since I had no quilt on the frame I took this opportunity to change to a metal track.  The plastic tracks were wearing at one end.  I thought that was odd.  I had read about using 1/4 inch metal rod instead of the plastic track.  I need 104 inches.  I could only find it in 6 foot lengths locally.  I bought four and Steven cut them for me on Sunday.  I also replaced the track on the carriage.

Either the rods are warped or the frame is warped, or both.  On one side, the rod would come out of the track as I passed the carriage over the joint.  I fiddled around with it on Sunday and thought I had it fixed.  It seemed to be ok when I was practicing and I made this short video. I had to hold the camera with one hand.  Believe me, I prefer to use two hands and I can see that I get better results.

 I monkeyed with it some and hope that I have fixed the problem.  I am on the hunt for two, long, 1/4 inch, metal rods so that I can avoid piecing them.  I might have to t

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Nothing Ventued, Nothing.....

Well you know.  I am working on this very dirty 500A.  I am not sure that it will ever stitch.  It is just so dirty.  I had wanted to gain access to the needle bar area.  I figured the best way was to remove the presser bar tension adjuster.  The screws would not loosen and I managed to bugger them up.  I did manage to remove the dial but that didn't get me much access. The machine was just not happy in zz mode and I wondered if the plunger was all gooked up.  I finally decided to just remove the needle bar.  I loosened the set screw, as directed in the service manual, but that f*#$%ing thing would not let go.  I had to apply heat, alcohol and more heat and use the persuader.  If I ever get this machine to stitch, its name will be The Persuader.

I removed the needle bar, not much caring that I will have to reset the needle bar height and I have NO GAUGES.  I cleaned out the bushings and cleaned the needle bar and proceeded to re-assemble it.

This is the same point, right side up, on the same machine, only different (a 401)
The lower bushing was pretty gunked up and I tried my best to clean it out.  I hope I was able to clean it well enough.  Degreaser may be tough, but years of oil and dirt are tougher.   I thought about removeving it but could not figure out how.  

I put the plunger back into the machine
Then I put the needle bar in.
 I forgot about the bushing.

I also forgot to put it in correctly.  See the threads in the above photo?  Those threads should be facing the front, not the back.  I just had to switch it around, so that the set screw would fit. 
The action wasn't all that much better.  There is another "plunger" point but it is under the camstack.  

I looked in the service manual.

Really?  That's IT?

Well, of course I had to try.

I reckon I will have some more cleaning to do this weekend.  I do think, though, that the hook gears are not meshed correctly.  The machine is so unhappy with the stitch width on 5.  Of course, there could be all sorts of gunk in there and cleaning may result in happier movements.  Time will tell.  I am, admittedly, ready to put this machine aside.  That Necchi BU SuperNova needs me. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014


It was a beautiful morning.  
I love this view.  We walk all the way to the top then cross the field and walk back.  If I could, I would build a house up there.   One day, though, after the leaves are down and before hunting season Steven and I are going to hike to the top of that highest hill, closest in the photo.  It will be a bush wack, but with the leaves down we might be able to look back and see this field.

By the time we took this walk, I had finished the new zipper leaders for the quilt frame.  I wanted to replace the pink leaders with woven, cotton, ticking.  The stripes, I hope will provide a nice straight line to which I can baste the quilt edge.  It doesn't matter for this muslin practice piece.   I'll know if it was worth it when I have a real quilt to install.  The scrappy quilt went on pretty straight.  The other two were wonky.

 I did not order enough ticking.  It is on the way this week.  That is why you still see the pink leader.

 Betsy came over yesterday.  Oh it was a miserable day.  It was cold and rainy.  We needed chill chasers in the house,
and in the sewing loft
 We worked on the 500A.  It is a filthy, dirty, disgusting, machine.  I tried cleaning the hook with q tips and alcohol but just couldn't get it clean.  I knew it would never sew if the hook wasn't clean.  So we decided to pull it out.

The most intimidating part about pulling a hook on these machines is matching the gears up when you put it back together.  The service manual recommends scoring the gears  first.  So we did.  We used a sharp pick and just scratched  one tooth  on the bevel gear we were removing and its corresponding groove. 
Then we followed the directions in the manual.  It is pretty straight forward.  We have a parts machine (503) so we practiced on that.  Betsy wanted to put that hook right back in so we would know how, but I wanted to keep it out in case I needed to replace this one.

We had some difficulty getting the bevel gear off.  It was pretty stuck.  Lots of oil, heat and PB Blaster and a bit of persuasion with a screwdriver and the persuader and we managed to get the bevel gear off.  The hook was pretty stuck, too, but it didn't take as much effort to finally get it out.  I am glad that we made the effort.  The position finger was filthy and I never would have managed to get that clean.
position finger
While I got out the ultrasonic cleaner and cleaned the parts, Betsy scrubbed the machine.  There was a lot to do.  Still more, to do, yet.  She cleaned the needle plate lever

 and managed to get it back together so that it works.

Once the parts were cleaned we put the hook back together.  We lined the scratch marks up just fine and tightened everything down.  There was, alas,  a catch when we turned the hand wheel.  Betsy thought it was coming from the needle bar area.  I thought that it had to be coming from the gears.  There seemed to be a wobble in the hook when it made a full revolution.  So we looked at the gears again and noticed that the screw (S1) was not lined up with the flat (F1).  A quick adjustment of that and all was well.

 This morning, before the walk, I wanted to put the hook back in the 503.  I had it in my hand when Wrigley barked to come in the shop.  He and Frannie joined me but Wilson did not care to come in.  I enticed him with a treat, but no way.  Then I became distracted by a Bentwood case we have on the shelf.  Next thing I knew I had it down and was checking it out.  Nope, not one for a 15-91,201,66.  Just a plain, simple case for a 128 or a 28.  Bummer.  But, more importantly, I lost that hook.  I had it in my hand, set it down somewhere in the shop and it is gone.  Solid gone.

Monday, September 8, 2014


Sundays are delicious days.  I have no obligations and I revel in the pleasure of no deadlines.  I was up early (thank you Frannie, the canine alarm clock with no snooze button.)  It was warm enough for me to enjoy breakfast on the front porch.  The mist was hovering over Elk Creek.  It looked a bit ethereal; almost ghost like.  The photo doesn't do it justice.
 I was out in the apartment soon after breakfast.  The dogs joined me there, sometime later.  Wilson always manages to find me there.  Frannie is less clever but she was with Wilson.  Wrigley was clueless.  I could hear him barking away on the front porch, begging to be let in the house.   I sent Wilson after him.  "Go get your brother."  

I am lucky to have all the space I have. The guest apartment is the perfect space for the quilt frame and the Bailey.  The sewing loft is cozy and sweet for sewing.  The shop is perfect for the machines.   I do wish, though, that all my stuff could be in one place.  That would require another, rather large, building.  Or I could just downsize and dispose of 70 percent of my stuff.  Nah.  I think I will just make do.

The scrappy quilt is 60 percent quilted.  It is not a large quilt so it goes fast.  I am using some pre-wound bobbins too.  That saves time.  The pre-wounds are L bobbins which are the same diameter but not as thick as the class 15 bobbins.  I do have to reload more often than I would were I using the proper bobbin size.  Since I don't have to wind the bobbins, I probably am making up for that lost time.  Color choices are limited with pre-wounds.  The white blends in quite nicely even so.

 I could have finished the quilt on Sunday.  I am saving all that fun for later this week. 

Instead I plugged in the Necchi BU  "Let's just see how this sounds" Nothing. I had the power cord plugged into the machine incorrectly. I  turned it around and things worked but  the  light dimmed when I pressed the controller.   If didn't  work at all when  I reversed the plug in the socket.  Interesting.  I tried out my "working just fine" power cord and foot controller from Stinky(Necchi BF) and discovered that the machine and light run just fine.    Interesting. The BF power cord does not come apart.  The BU power cord does.  I think someone wired it backwards.  I can't figure out how to wire it frontwards.  I ordered a new one.  Easier that way. 

I also worked on the cabinet.  I managed to free up the stuck, bottom drawer.  So now, when Steven comes home we can move it out of his shop.  I would love to have it in the sewing loft.   Oh dear God, how will I figure that out?

Monday, September 1, 2014

How did

 become this?
With this:
I sorted my scraps into piles.  There is a pink and purple pile.  I am not in the mood for pink and purple right now.  Maybe later.  Maybe never.  The rest went into this pile and one other.   Those two piles became the scrappy quilt.

I needed to sew something and I did not want to create more scraps.  The original intent was to stuff as many as I could into a "IF IT FITS IT SHIPS' USPS box and ship them somewhere.  I still had many strips left over and Nina at the Quilt Zoo suggested that I just use them up in a scrappy quilt.

"Just start sewing."

Sounded like the perfect was to spend Labor Day Weekend.  That is, after I drove to Woodstock to fetch a Singer 201-3. Sigh.

I used a Kenmore for the first batch of scraps.  It's a whiner; though it makes a nice stitch.  I switched to the 301A, long bed.  but it was not so quiet either.  Something clunky in the feed dogs.  (I figured out what the noise is, I just can't fix it)

So then I got out the Necchi.  Very nice.  Very, very, very, nice.  She did very well for a while.  Then, out of nowhere, big loops on the bottom.  I thought that I had fixed that problem.  I changed to different thread, same thing.  I put the spool upside down on the thread holder (the big one, for cones) same thing. 

I cleaned the bobbin case, same thing. 

I finally switched to Guterman thread, top and bobbin.  No problems.  None.   Fancy Italian machine, like Fancy Italian car, likes high test.  The Kenmore and the 301 could not have cared less. 

I finished up the piecing and added some sashing. 
 I finished that this morning and spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out the back.  I had some big pieces left so I had to piece some more.  My goal had been to get it on the frame by noon.  That didn't happen.

Instead I got distracted by the clunky 301A, or the fact that my sewing loft was a sauna and the shop was cool and comfortable.

The feed dogs drop on the 301.  I did not notice the noise when I was using it for FMQ.  I figured that maybe the dogs were  misaligned and hitting something.  I finally isolated to noise to the feed throw out mechanism.  There was a bit of play, even after re-engaging the feed dogs.  I tried tightening the nut and stripped it.  Uh Oh

Lucky for me I bought out some sewing machine parts last winter.  It's true that I have bemoaned the fact that the guy NEVER THREW OUT ANYTHING.  I was very glad to find just the right sized nut to fit that bolt in the feed dog drop.  WHEW.

The noise is still there.  I think it must be from wear and tear; like my knee, or wrist, or thumb.  I certainly cannot figure out where else to tighten anything.  I tired, believe me.  I did, however, fix the height of the feed dogs.  They were too high.  Loosen nut N2 and turn Screw P2 and then tighten nut N2. 

Mom called during all of this and asked what I was doing.  I told her that I was about to put the scrappy quilt on the frame.

"Oh I wish I could be there so I could see how you do it.  Maybe you will send me pictures."

Maybe, I will. Maybe I will just post them on the blog.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I don't know why reading those words gives me such pleasure; probably because I have so few things made in Italy. 

This Necchi was given to us last winter.  I did some re-wiring on the light ( and found a motor in the South River stash.  For weeks this machine was sitting on the bench. I finally cleaned it all up and got it stitching.  Guess what?  I love it.  (It smells a bit musty but that is dissipating with time).

 The tension assembly is so classy.  No way did I take this one apart. 

 Basically, this is the same concept as other, end loading, oscillating, shuttles. (Is that an example of the Oxford comma? Is that even grammatically correct?)
 The race cover, however, can't get lost or dropped.  Very clever.
 I was falling in love and wondered if the feed dogs dropped.  I removed the slide plate and saw this. (Oh, I just love that this little piece is stamped "ITALY"

The presser foot pressure indicator is numbered on the face plate.  I am not sure that is all that convenient.  None of the Singers I use have numbered presser foot pressure.  I imagine it is like the tension assy, the number is arbitrary and useful if you need a reference; e.g. when you switch from one type of fabric to another and back again. 
 There is a little tab just above the spring that fits into the slot on the face plate.
 Not such a good shot.  I have dust in the lens.  New camera on the way today from B & H photo.
I used it yesterday.  I had some trouble with thread nests occurring intermittently.  I did all the usual fixes; new needle, wound a different bobbin, good thread.  Nothing helped until I changed from the large cone with the thread holder to a smaller spool on the machine itself.  WTF?  Why that would matter was beyond me.

I watched the thread as it came off the spool today.  When the thread unwound from the bottom, where the spool is wider, it would catch as it came off.  I could feel it when I pulled the thread off the spool.  I fixed that problem.  I turned the stupid spool upside down.  Now it works fine.  I have large cones of thread in neutral colors.  I want to use it up. Practice sewing is the perfect use for it.

Not many people want these old straight stitch machines.  That's why we have them.  I can see that this machine could be treadled.  It might be strong enough, perhaps as strong as my 15-90, to sew through multiple layers.  I may even try some FMQ.  The motor is fast enough. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What I learned on Summer Vacation

How to make Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole and
how to keep my mouth shut.

I am not so sure that my son and daughter-in-law will agree about the mouth.  They did eat the casserole, however.

Now that I am home and released from Granny Nanny duties, the dogs and I have plans for the next week.  Lots of walks, some sewing and some serious sewing machine repair work.

There may be vodka involved, as well, as a spray starch and a parts cleaner  (cough)